In Defense of Young Instructors | Aviation

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During any gathering of older pilots, often including a few non-practicing certified flight instructors, the current state of pilot training frequently comes up. “Them kids teaching students today don’t know sheep from shingles. Why, they were students themselves a couple of years ago. All they know is to follow a pink line on the screen.”

Is it really all that bad? Are most flight instructors wet behind the ears, riding with student pilots to build hours on a fast track to an airline seat?

Are we truly in a cycle of the blind leading the blind, staffed by beginner CFIs now training students after they were themselves taught by young instructors with limited experience? 

I don’t necessarily agree with all the woe-is-us, doom-and-gloom assessments. I started teaching primary flying when I’d been a pilot for only a bit over four years. In that time, I’d accumulated a few hundred hours of flying time, made some venturesome trips, flown a dozen different planes and picked up some wisdom from older aviators. I knew quite a bit more than the ab initio beginners I introduced to flying, and I was willing to share it with them. I think I did a decent job.

It’s unfair to apply a coat of tar to all young CFIs with the broad brush of exalted experience. The fact is, their youth, in the sense of only recently becoming rated, can bequeath certain advantages. Such an instructor can still remember what it was like to enter a cockpit filled with unfamiliar gadgetry titled by strange names, and how fear and physical discomfort sometimes interfered with the wonderment of flight. Such empathy lends itself to reassuring “I know what you’re thinking” conversations.

The just-trained CFI is more likely to be up to date on the latest procedures and requirements, having just taken several check rides in recent memory. Compared with an old set-in-his-ways senior instructor,  that youngster is more likely to know how it’s supposed to be done. Without the…

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